For patients with spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis of the spine, and degenerative disc disease not responding well to conservative treatments, a lumbar foraminotomy may be recommended. The purpose of the procedure is to increase space around the openings between vertebrae and spinal nerve roots that travel to the rest of the body, referred to as the neural foramina.
Why Consider a Lumbar Foraminotomy
If the space around nerve roots is further narrowed, conditions like DDD may result in numbness and leg weakness, often making surgery becomes a viable option for relief. The determination of whether or not a lumbar foraminotomy is the appropriate procedure is based on how the condition affects a patient’s daily life, with common symptoms including:
- Deep and steady pain in calves, thighs, lower back, arms, shoulders, or hands
- Pain consistently associated with certain movements or activities
- Increasing pain and progressive muscle weakness
Preparing for a Lumbar Foraminotomy
An MRI is often performed to confirm that the stenosis of the spine is related to a constriction of the passageway for nerve roots. Patients may be referred to a physical therapist before spine surgery to learn how to do therapeutic exercises and use crutches while recovering.
How the Procedure is Performed
Performed under general anesthesia, a lumbar foraminotomy involves the removal of a small part of the lamina, a thin layer of tissue, to reach the affected area of the spine. Special instruments are used to remove disc fragments, bone spurts, or overgrown ligaments to provide more space for nerve roots.
A lumbar foraminotomy is considered a relatively safe procedure with standard spine surgery risks. Ideal candidates are patients who have tried non-surgical remedies for 5-6 months without relief or patients experiencing radiating pain and muscle weakness extending to the legs due to nerve compression. The recovery period averages 2-4 weeks.
To learn more about this procedure or other options for pain relief, including fusion and non-fusion back surgeries, call The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration at (310) 828-7757 and schedule a consultation today.